Clinic Staff

Evan Shoemake

Executive Director

Evan Shoemake

There are two questions I ask more than any other: who has ever been without health insurance for any significant amount of time? How did you feel during that time? My own mother told me that the scariest year of her entire life was the one year where she and my dad were without health insurance and had two children under the age of 6. Every day she prayed for no accidents.

I went several years without health insurance because I took a career leap and tried my hand as a freelance writer living in New York City. Everything was totally fine until it wasn’t, and life got serious really quickly. While living without health coverage I experienced a dire medical emergency. I had no physician, and I did not want to go to the ER because, at the time it didn’t feel serious so I found myself at a free clinic. It was this place, this free clinic, that saved my life and not only gave me the medical care I needed but gave me something equally valuable: peace of mind and security.

I’ve lived long enough to have no healthcare, to have just enough to get by, and I once had the luxury of being on one of the best health insurance plans around. Living without health insurance is a terrifying and stressful existence and not having regular access to basic healthcare can make each day feel incredibly scary. I know this because I have lived it and I have known others in similar situations. A free clinic is an invaluable, more than necessary resource for people like me, and people like recent college graduates or midlife transitional folks or people who just need a lift, a safety net, and a resource to make them feel better. Illness happens. Having a place to go, a place to receive treatment and heal is vital. Can you imagine what it’s like if we don’t have that?

I am a native of this community (graduate of Forsyth Central High School) who recently relocated back after over twenty years away. I knew this community when it was barely anything and I know it now that it is a top-tier place to live. Since receiving a Masters of Education from the University of Florida, I have been incredibly fortunate to have a diverse and varied educational and professional journey that led me in a variety of directions including working in the Nashville music industry negotiating contracts for songwriters and hosting events, the New York theatre industry negotiating director and choreographer contracts for a theatrical Union, a brief stint as a freelance writer (and bartender) and most recently working at The Rockefeller University running the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases. I’m proud to be back in the city where it all started, bringing my personal experience to the community that helped shape me. It’s a unique privilege to have gone away then be able to come back with an experience that allows me to understand the challenges that face those among us without access to care and I’m proud to have the opportunity to provide that resource.